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Benz wins Kripke Award for promoting women in science, medical careers

HOUSTON - Noted hematologist Edward J. Benz Jr., M.D., is the 2011 recipient of the Margaret L. Kripke Legend Award for Promotion of Women in Cancer Medicine and Cancer Science presented by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Benz, president and chief executive officer of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, receives the award at 4 p.m. March 24 at MD Anderson.

The first male recipient of the Kripke Legend Award, Benz has been a mentor to numerous women physicians and scientists, many of whom went on to impressive leadership positions. He also has been an advocate for women pursuing medical careers.

Dedication to gender equality

"We're delighted to have our first male awardee," said Elizabeth Travis, Ph.D., MD Anderson associate vice president of Women Faculty Programs, which sponsors the award. "It reinforces that gender equity and advancement is not a women's issue but an issue for all of us if we're to make the most of highly talented people."

The Kripke Legend Award recognizes scientific and medical leaders who have made extraordinary efforts to hire a diverse workforce, promote women to leadership roles, nominate them for awards and otherwise advance their careers. It was established in honor of Professor Emerita Margaret Kripke, Ph.D., a distinguished scientist who achieved many firsts for women at MD Anderson, culminating in her promotion to executive vice president and chief academic officer.

Benz will deliver the Kripke lecture, "Applying Mentorship, Leadership and Power of Position to Enhancing the Career Development of Women Faculty," in MD Anderson's Hickey Auditorium.

Acclaimed researcher, academic leader

An internationally recognized expert in inherited anemias and red blood cell diseases, Benz also is a professor and the oncology faculty dean at Harvard Medical School. During his distinguished career in academic internal medicine, he has remained an active scientist, authoring more than 300 peer-reviewed publications. He was one of the first to apply the emerging technologies of molecular genetics to the study of human disease.

"I feel extremely privileged to receive the Kripke Award and very grateful to those who nominated me," Benz said. "Dr. Margaret Kripke has been a marvelous advocate and role model for women in medicine. This award will further energize my efforts to contribute to the goals she has advanced so effectively."

A champion for women

But Benz's professional accomplishments, impressive as they are, don't tell why he received this award. In nominating Benz, several women who benefited from his support and guidance spoke in glowing terms of his dedication to advancing the careers of women physician-scientists.

"I know of no one who has a more passionate commitment to fostering the careers of young scientists and physician-scientists, and he has done more than anyone I can name to advance the careers of women," said Nancy Berliner, M.D., chief of oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Besides being a role model and mentor, Benz has done much to level the playing field for women in medical careers. As a result of his leadership practices at Dana-Farber, the number of women leaders there has increased. Before joining Dana-Farber, he made similar strides at Johns Hopkins.

As Glorian Sorensen, Ph.D., faculty vice president for faculty development at Dana-Farber, writes: "Dr. Benz is an agent for change in creating an environment in which women can flourish and fostering a culture that values the contributions of women."


Contact: Scott Merville
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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